Mayor appeals to key Senators on domestic partners, needle exchange
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Mayor appeals to key senators on domestic partners, needle exchange

[The letter below was sent to approximately fifteen Senators on the morning of November 7, 2001.]

Executive Office of the Mayor
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

November 7, 2001

The Honorable George V. Voinovich
United States Senate
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Voinovich:

I write to you today to ask you to support swift passage of the FY 2002 District of Columbia Appropriations bill. This bill, as reported out of the full Senate Appropriations Committee on October 11th, contains $16 million in vital funding for emergency preparedness in the District and many positive policy changes that the city government requested to enhance the District's self-governance.

I appreciate the positive work the Senate Committee on Appropriations has done on the FY02 District of Columbia Appropriations bill. I would ask that you support the bill reported out by the Appropriations Committee and oppose any amendments that would prevent the city from using its locally raised funds to implement policies put in place by our locally-elected officials, such as the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 and the District's vital HIV-prevention needle-exchange program.

Our city government believes we should have the same ability to determine the employee benefits offered to our city workers as any other jurisdiction. By passing the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act, the locally-elected officials of the District of Columbia have adopted a similar policy as 113 other jurisdictions nationwide in an effort to expand health coverage in our city where the uninsured exist at an unacceptable rate. In an effort to recruit and retain the best possible workforce, this program also simply follows the benefits that many District private employers, universities and Fortune 500 companies offer. Because employees electing this coverage must pay for it at their own expense, the cost to the District government is negligible.

The District of Columbia has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the nation, but is currently the only city in the country prevented from using its locally-raised funds for a life-saving needle exchange program. Currently there are over 130 needle-exchange programs operating in over 80 cities in 30 states nationwide. The District should be allowed to use its locally-raised funds for this purpose as other jurisdictions are allowed to do.

As the District moves into the post-Control Board era, we applaud many of the positive policy changes in the Senate Appropriations Committee passed FY '02 DC Appropriations bill. We urge you to support the swift passage of this bill and reject any amendments that would impede the District's ability to use its own funds to implement locally-supported policy initiatives.


Anthony Williams